A man in Wisconsin has been charged with participation in a distributed denial-of-service attack in February 2011 against Koch Industries by hacker group Anonymous .
Eric J. Rosol, 37, of Black Creek, Wis., is charged with one count of conspiracy to damage a protected computer and another count of damaging a protected computer, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas said on Wednesday.
He is alleged to have participated in a Feb. 28 attack using Low Orbit Ion Cannon against a Koch Industries website, "Kochind.com." The company is privately held with headquarters in Wichita, Kan., and has businesses in a number of areas including oil and manufacturing.
LOIC is a popular DDoS tool used by Anonymous and other online attackers to overload websites with requests and disrupt the target server.
If convicted, Rosol faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count, according to a statement from the attorney's office.
In February 2011, Anonymous began to promote a DDoS attack against Koch Industries through Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, and invited participants to the attack, according to the attorney's office. On Feb. 27, it asked participants to use the LOIC to attack a Koch Industries website, "quiltednorthern.com," and the next day targeted "Kochind.com."
Rosol was allegedly one of those who launched LOIC attacks on "Kochind.com," and as a result of the attack, the website crashed and was unavailable for genuine traffic.
Koch Industries' owners, David and Charles Koch, were targeted by Anonymous for their alleged role in weakening the bargaining power of trade unions.
The attorney's office described Rosol as "taking part" in the cyberattack, and it seems unlikely that he was a ringleader in the DDoS operation. It did not state whether there would be more people charged in connection with the Koch Industries attack.
The use of U.S. computer laws to charge individuals for crimes that could lead to long sentences in jail has been criticized by some civil rights activists who argue that the punishment is often disproportionate to the online crime and higher than sentences for similar crimes in the physical world.